Niels Treschow building, 8th floor, room 803
Niels Henrik Abels vei 36
Jasenovac and Bleiburg: Contested Narratives in Croatian Public Rituals
Croatia’s transition from communism and bloody war for independence in the 1990s radically redefined how the country viewed and commemorated its World War Two past. Whereas the victory of the communist-led Partisan movement had been a pillar of legitimacy for the Yugoslav state, newly democratic and independent
My research explores how this divided memory of World War Two in the last eighteen years has been expressed in politics, culture, interethnic relations, and especially annual commemorations. Politicized rituals at various “sites of memory” (Pierre Nora’s lieux de mémoire) symbolize this divided social memory and contested histories of the twentieth century. While the entire calendar of World War Two commemorations continues to spark debates in Croatian society, no rituals are as controversial as those held every year at the emotionally powerful sites of Jasenovac and Bleiburg. Both Jasenovac, the most infamous of the Ustaša death camps, and Bleiburg, a symbol of post-war revenge killings by the Partisans, have seen their victims manipulated and nationalized for contemporary political purposes, especially during the turbulent 1990s.
This talk will examine the role these political rituals played in the latest period of violence that tore Yugoslavia apart, the symbols that are used at these commemorations to define identity and ideology, and the reaction of various segments of Croatian society to this traumatic divided memory. Furthermore, the issues raised will touch on how a society comes to terms with a troubled past, the role of commemorations in reconciliation (or obstructing reconciliation) of post-war societies, and how contested histories affect bilateral relations between the Yugoslav successor states.
Wednesday 19 November, 14.15, Room 706 Niels Treschow’s building
Vjeran Pavlaković, PhD, is assistant professor in the Cultural Studies Department at the